The United States is suffering through the slow torture of a painful unprecedented calamity. But enough about Donald Trump. The American people are enduring a hardship of mammoth proportions that is threatening both their health and economic welfare. It's a challenge that requires a shared resolve to stare clear-eyed into the abyss of a frightful future.
For the most part, Americans have been meeting this challenge with courage and a determination to prevail over the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Victory demands facing their troubles honestly and not being afraid to recognize difficult truths. It's too bad that these efforts are made all the more difficult by the ignorant and dangerous misinformation that is disseminated by Trump and Fox News.
On Monday morning, the “Curvy Couch” potatoes of Fox and Friends interviewed former Reagan Secretary of Education, Bill Bennett, a Fox contributor. His profoundly idiotic remarks made it hard to connect him with any office where education was involved. Co-host Brian Kilmeade asked Bennett to comment on the 22,000+ deaths so far. This is what Bennett – and Fox News – are still shoving down America's throat (video below):
Bennett: Now they say 60,000 people will die. 61,000 is what we lost to the flu in 2017 and 2018. The flu […] If you look at those numbers and see the comparable, we're gonna have fewer fatalities from this than from the flu.
“For this we scared the hell out of the American people. We lost 17 million jobs. We put a major dent in the economy. We closed down the schools. You heard Dr. Oz say we didn't have to do that. We shut down the churches and so on. You know, this was not and is not a pandemic. But we do have panic and pandemonium as a result of the hype of this.”
Kilmeade: Well, it is labeled a pandemic.
The measure of mendacity in those comments is hard to quantify. Let's start with Bennett's trivialization of the deaths attributed to COVID-19. His comparison of the coronavirus to the flu is absurd. The 61,000 deaths from the flu occurred over the course of a year. And he chose a particularly bad year. The 2018-2019 season saw half that many flu deaths. The 60,000 estimated deaths from the coronavirus would be over a few months. Also, the fatality rate for the coronavirus is much higher.
What's more, the lowered projections are only because many states implemented their own “Stay at Home” orders and other precautionary guidelines that Trump foolishly neglected. Those guidelines must remain in effect if we are to avoid much higher rates of fatalities. But Bennett is advocating dropping those guidelines, which would result in a second wave that could be even worse than the first.
Bennett's assertion that COVID-19 “was not and is not a pandemic” is beyond stupid. It's a wholly dishonest attempt to deceive people that could end up costing many more lives. Kilmeade's weak interjection that the virus is “labeled” a pandemic is hardly sufficient to correct the record. It is not “labeled” a pandemic. It IS a pandemic. That would be like saying that Hurricane Katrina was merely labeled a hurricane.
It would be bad enough if this interview took place in early February when Trump and the rest of his right-wing enablers were still saying that it was “totally under control,” with only five victims and it was “going down to zero” in a couple of days. But airing this now, after half a million Americans were infected and 22,000 died, tells us that Fox News still isn't through misinforming the public about the risks of this pandemic. And if Fox News isn't through, then neither is Trump.
Indeed, Trump is currently forming plans to “reopen” the country by May 1, a date that no health expert has endorsed. But then, his only considerations are for his bank account and his reelection prospects.
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